CREWE, a township, in the parish of Barthomley, union and hundred of Nantwich, S. division of the county of Chester, 4½ miles (S. W. by S.) from Sandbach; containing, according to the census of 1841, 396 inhabitants. The town of Crewe, which but a few years since consisted of only one house, now assumes the appearance of a rapidly increasing place; and its population, swelling with its size, amounts to about 5000. It lies near the road from Nantwich to Sandbach; is built, for the most part, on ground belonging to Oak Farm, in the adjoining parish of Coppenhall; and consists of several hundred dwelling-houses, occupied, almost exclusively, by persons connected with the railway lines to which the place owes its present importance. The houses are arranged in four classes, viz.: lodges, in the villa style, for the superior officers; ornamented Gothic buildings, for the next in authority; detached mansions, which accommodate four families, with separate entrances to each; and cottages, with four apartments, for the work-people. The first, second, and third classes have all gardens and yards, and the fourth gardens, also; and the whole presents a remarkably neat specimen of a model town. Each house and cottage is supplied with gas, and water is abundant: there are baths, a playground, a newsroom, a library, and an assembly-room.
The Grand Junction or Liverpool and Birmingham Railway Company, desirous of having a central position for their works, selected Crewe; and from their station here, now serving as a general station, diverge the Chester and Crewe railway, taking a west-north-west direction to Chester; and the Crewe and Manchester railway. The three lines now belong to the London and North-Western Company. The entire railway-works cover a space of thirty acres, and employ about 1100 persons, of whom 800 are engaged in the engineering department, and the remainder in the coach-building department. Among the various buildings is the forge, where the iron-work is executed, the fan being used instead of the bellows; and in another portion is the coach-building room, in continuation of which are the repairing-shop and smithy. Another wing is appropriated to the locomotive branch, presenting the aspect of a vast polytechnic institution, and in which are all the implements of engineering. In the extreme wing is the brass and iron foundry; and an immense space is allotted to trains of carriages, and to steam-engines, some of which latter are kept always ready under steam pressure, in case of accident.
The township comprises 1913 acres, of which the prevailing soil is sand and clay. It has been the inheritance of the Crewe family from a very early period. The Hall, the seat of Lord Crewe, exhibits a good specimen of the more enriched style of architecture which prevailed in the early part of the 17th century: it was begun in 1615, and completed in 1636, and the ceilings and wainscots of many of the rooms, and the principal staircase, retain their original decorations. The gallery, a hundred feet in length, is fitted up as a library, and contains a number of family portraits, and fine pictures: the mansion has also a private chapel, where divine service is performed every Sunday morning, and where is a large painting of the Last Supper, with two beautiful specimens of ancient stained glass. The park is embellished with a charming sheet of water covering 90 acres, and the scenery of the domain is strikingly picturesque. A church was consecrated in the town in December, 1845; it is in the Anglo-Norman style, in the form of a cross, and has an elegant tower: the whole is of Newcastle blue brick, with freestone angles. There is an endowment of £200 per annum for the minister. The tithes of the township have been commuted for £110 payable to the impropriator, and £30 to the rector of the parish. A school was founded in 1729, pursuant to the will of Thomas Leadbeater, Esq., who bequeathed £30 for the erection of a house, and £120 for the maintenance of a master; and there have been erected schools for the children of the artisans who are engaged on the works.